In claiming that antiwar protests are inappropriate now that "the democratic decision to go to war" has been reached, David Robinson demonstrates a misunderstanding of the purpose of protests and the meaning of democracy.
People who disagree with the decision to go to war should continue to voice their disapproval. Nothing obliges us to unquestionably accept decisions, even those democratically derived. However, those who disagree with the war should recognize that their sentiments will be regarded as anti-American, if not appropriately couched.
It's a monumental challenge to spin the decision to go to war as democratic. Does democracy entail a president — not voted in by the public majority — ramming his private decision down the throats of Americans who clearly disagreed with unilateral action, knowing that many would subsequently feel obliged to support the war once in progress? Agree or disagree with the war, you can't call it a democratic decision.
You also can't convince me that it's a patriotic duty to keep silent if I disagree. Decisions can be changed and soldiers can be brought home, so protests are always a crucial ingredient of democracy. One purported purpose of the war is liberation, to provide Iraqis with a democracy in which they can voice their disapproval with their leader. The irony is palpable when pro-freedom war advocates silence dissenters in the name of democracy.
I support the military, but I'm pro-peace and proud of it. And I'm sick of feeling oppressed by overzealous patriots. Kai M. A. Chan GS
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